« הקודםהמשך »
« and be wise, and let not Habit prevail against « thee.” I started, and beheld myself surrounded by the rocks of Teneriffe ; the birds of light were singing in the trees, and the glances of the morning darted upon me.
HU M A N L I F E. Translated from the Greek of Cebes, a Disciple of
A S we were walking in the temple of Saturn, and I observing several of the presents dedicated to that god, we were particularly struck with a picture hung up before one of the chapels. Both the manner and the subject of it seemed to be foreign ; so that we were at a loss to know either whence, or what it was. What it represented was neither a city nor a camp; but an inclosure, containing two other inclofures, the one larger, and the other less. To the outer inclosure there was a portal, with a great number of persons standing before it, and several females within ; and an aged man standing by the portal, in the attitude of giving directions to those who were going in.
After we had been debating anong ourselves for some time, what all these things should mean, an elderly person, who happened to be by, addressed himself to us in the following manner:
Old Citizen. As you are strangers, 'tis no wonder that you should be at a loss to find out the meaning
of of this picture; fince several of the natives of this city themselves know not the true intent of it: and indeed it was not placed here by any of our citizens, but by a stranger who visited these parts several years ago. He was a very sensible man, and a great philoTopher; and, both in his conversation and practice, seemed to approach nearer to the doctrines of Pythaporas and Parmenides, than to any other of our sects. It was he who built this temple and dedicated this picture in it to Saturn.
Stranger. Have you then seen the very person who gave it ? and was you acquainted with him ?
O. C. Yes, I was both well acquainted with him, and admired him very much ; for though he was rether young, his conversation was full of wisdom; and, among other things, I have often heard him explaining the subject of the picture before us.
S. I intreat you, if it will not be too troublesome, to acquaint us with his explanation of it, for it is what we were all longing to know.
O. C. That will be rather a pleasure than any trouble to me; but I ought to forewarn you of one thing before I begin, which is this, that the hearing it, is attended with some danger..
S. What danger can there be in that?
0.C. It is no less than this, that if you observe and follow the lesson than it gives you, it will make you wife and happy; but if you neglect it, you will be most miserable and wretched all your days. So that the explaining of this, is not unlike the riddle laid to have been proposed to people by the sphynx, which if the hearer understood, he was faved; but if hot, he was to be destroyed. It is much the same Vol. II.
in the present case; for ignorance is full as dangerous in life, as the sphynx was supposed to be in the fable. Now the picture before us includes all the doctrine of what is good in life, what is bad, and what indifferent ; so that if you should take it wrong, you will be destroyed by it; not indeed all at once, as the people were by that monster; but by little and little, through all the residue of your life, as those are who are given up to be put to death by now tortures. On the contrary, if you understand it aright, then will your ignorance be destroyed, and you will be saved, and become happy and blest for all the rest of your days.. Do you, therefore, attend carefully to what I shall say to you, and observe it as you ought.
S. O heavens, how have you encreafed our longing to hear, what may be of such very great importance to us!
0. C. It is certainly of the greatest that can be.
S. Explain it then to us immediately, we beseech you; and be assured, that we will listen to you with all the care and attention, that a matter which concerns us so greatly must demand.
0. C. You see this grand inclosure. All this circuit, is the CIRCUIT OF HUMAN Life, and that great number of people standing before the portal, are those who are to enter into life. This aged person, who stands by the entrance holding a paper in one of his hands, and pointing with the other, is the GENIUS who directs all that are going in, what they should do after they are entered into life; and shews thèm which way they ought to take in order to be happy in it.
S. And which is the way that he shews them? where is it?
0.C. Do you see that seat on the other side, before the portal; and the woman sitting on it, with a cup in her hand ? She who is so finely dressed out, and makes so plausible an appearance ?
S. I see her; and pray who is she?
0. C. As they are entering into life, she offers them to drink of her cup:
S. And what does her cup contain ?
0. C. Ignorance and error; of which when they have drunk, they enter into life.
S. And do all drink of this cup ?
0.C. All drink of it; but some more, and some less. A little farther, within the portal, don't you see a company of loose women, with a great deal of variety both in their dress and airs ?
S. I see them.
0. C. Those are the OPINIONS, Desires, and PLEASURES; who, as the multitude enter, fly to them; embrace each of them with great earnestness; and then lead them away with them.
S. And whither do they lead them?
0. C. Some to the way of safety; and others; to perdition through their folly.
S. Ah, why did they drink of that liquor before they came in?
0. C. All of them alike tell those whom they are embracing, that they will lead them to what is best, and will make their lives quite happy; whilst the new comers, blinded by the large draughts they